Get the Most from Social Media
Social media has become one of the most ubiquitous communication platforms across the world and an essential part of a business owner’s daily operations.
A June 2021 report from German social media analytics firm Statista shows more than $2.25 billion was spent globally on advertising on Facebook alone in 2020, almost 17 times higher than the amount spent in the middle of the decade.
A Pew Research Center study shows that investment in social media advertising can be lucrative; more than half of Americans are more likely to get their news from social media, and an overwhelming 86 percent do so from digital and mobile devices.
Social media is a key pillar in modern-day marketing, but a shop won’t be successful just by having a Facebook account or a Twitter profile and posting aimlessly. Digital marketing has to be planned out and executed strategically for shops to see tangible results.
Start from the Ground Up
A strong digital presence starts with a solid website.
Dave Schletewitz, a digital marketing specialist for Chevron Global Lubricants, says having a strong, mobile-responsive website optimized for SEO helps your business to be more searchable online and gives potential customers “digital visibility” into your shop.
“What we see is too many quick lube operators, for whatever reason, don't do those basic things, and that's just an excuse,” Schletewitz says. “They need to eliminate the excuses and get it going.”
Once a website is optimized for the modern internet, Schletewitz adds creating at least a Facebook and Instagram account is essential.
“That allows businesses to connect with their local customer base,” he says. “It's employees that will typically get their friends and family to follow, and then it expands from there to the rest of your customer base.”
Stephen Dupont, vice president of public relations for Minneapolis-based ad agency Pocket Hercules, says that most transactions—whether directly or indirectly—start with a Google search. Having a strong social media and digital presence could be the difference between a customer choosing your shop or going down the street to a competitor.
“For many people, social media is their daily source of news and information. They're not going to the local paper anymore or to other news sites for information,” Dupont says. “They just open up their Facebook and receive their news.”
Don’t waste customers’ time.
As more market-buying power shifts to those in the Millennial and Gen Z demographic, many shops have fallen into the trap of making social media posts that are funny, bizarre or are otherwise relatable to the “meme culture” of the internet in an attempt to draw in customers.
Dupont says that isn’t the role businesses generally play in people’s lives, though, and most customers don’t expect or want that content from their quick lube shop.
Not all posts are created equally—you have to define your audience. Once you define your audience, your posts should be about them and for them.
“Stop posting stuff that wastes people's time,” Dupont says. “Instead, focus your content on helping your customers first and foremost. We are in an attention economy, and when you have somebody’s attention, that is their time and you should value it.”
Dupont says to start by discerning what information is most pertinent to your customers; figuring out what questions they’re asking on a regular basis and how your shop can answer those questions are good places to start.
“It's about grabbing the attention and keeping the attention of customers. We are in an attention economy, and when you have somebody’s attention, that is their time and you should value it.”
-Stephen Dupont, Vice President of Public Relations, Pocket Hercules
Schletewitz says showing how you separate yourself from your competitors is also an effective way to use the multimedia capabilities of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
“It's about pictures. It's about a business doing good and giving back to its community,” Schletewitz says. “Customers love to see if there are exceptional customer service interactions happening in your store. Even pictures of a clean, orderly waiting room or bay are relevant, too.”
Invest time and money
Once a shop develops a solid idea of what kind of content it will post across its platforms, Dupont says its staff should get in the habit of posting at least once a week.
Whether it’s a post about a promotion at your shop, a quick reminder about the value of keeping your engine in good health or pictures of your shop and team, a consistent posting schedule will help with online visibility.
Once your shop is in a rhythm, Dupont says to increase the number of posts regularly.
“Many of the most well-known brands post multiple times per day. You don't have to necessarily do that much, but you do want to keep it fresh,” he says. “People engage with brands that they love and are passionate about.”
Optimizing social media posts and a shop’s overall digital presence can be a challenge, but Schletewitz says the investment is worth it. And a digital presence should be just that: an investment.
Schelewitz says that, in general, shops should be setting aside 5 to 8 percent of revenue for marketing and advertising, and social media a part of that.
On a granular level, if your shop’s posts aren’t performing as well as expected, Facebook and other platforms offer post boosting, which means paying a small amount of money for a platform to distribute the post to more people.
Propel Your Shop with Effective Social Media
Social media is part of your advertising and marketing budget. Any small business should have an annual budget and plan for advertising and marketing, and social media is part of that. Offsite advertising, charitable donations, community events on your property are all mixed in with that as well. That should all account for somewhere between 5 and 8 percent of your gross revenue.
So if a shop is doing $1 million in annual revenue, that's $50,000 to $80,000 in marketing. Divide that by 12, and that's around $4,200 to $6,700 per month. The cost of building a website is a couple thousand dollars, then you're paying someone to do your social media and boost your posts. That’s all part of your marketing/advertising budget.
It’s like a sailboat: If a sailboat’s sail isn’t full of wind, it isn’t moving forward and falls victim to the movement of the current. That designated advertising money is the wind. If you're not moving forward, you're standing still or going backward as a business, and businesses need to generate profit and they have to grow. You do that by having an integrated advertising-marketing mix, and social media is an important part of that mix.
-Dave Schletewitz, Digital Marketing Specialist, Chevron Global Lubricants
“If small businesses aren't boosting their posts, their reach will be based solely on their customer base, which could be an issue for a business trying to start building up a social media presence,” Schletewitz says.
And if social media proves to be a bigger-than-anticipated issue for your shop, using some of the allocated marketing budget to bring in an outside person to run your digital channels can help both reduce the amount of work your shop has to do and can help make posts even more effective.
“There are so many people working remotely now and so many young people that are social savvy and digital savvy,” Schletewitz says. “Just do a quick Google search for a local marketing agency, find someone and have them set up a mobile responsive website. Find someone on your staff or an outside person to do your social media posts. You have to get someone that knows what they're doing.”
Make Your Business Trustworthy
Social media is essential to creating a strong base of loyal customers that share their experiences from your shop with their friends and connections across various platforms.
Making sure your posts are relevant to what your customers are looking for and investing both time and some money into a regular social media schedule will go a long way in building up your shop’s digital credibility.
“When all things are equal, people do business with those that they know and trust,” Dupont says, “so the object of your social media and your online presence, your website, your emails is to build trust and to make your business likable and for you to get to know your customers.”